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The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

Editorial: Rec Center renovations good, but not enough

A locker room is divided down the middle with aging and broken lockers on one side and sparkling, new lockers on the other. The Rec Center’s new locker room renovations are a good start, but much more could be done. (Debbie Allen | Northern Star)

The NIU Recreation Center renovations have finally addressed the locker rooms’ glaring issues, but there is still a lot more work to be done.

From the dark stains on the carpet to ugly blue lockers that began rusting what looked like years ago, the Rec’s locker rooms were well past due for an upgrade.

NIU originally planned to renovate the Rec’s locker rooms in 2019, but plans were delayed due to COVID-19.

“The carpet was absolutely disgusting,” said junior psychology and sociology major Oliwia Rozanski. “I did not like walking barefoot on it. If I had to change shoes, I felt like I was getting 50 foot diseases.”

Prior to renovations, almost half of the lockers sported stickers that read “Out of Order.” A common problem among students using the lockers was their inability to open after being locked.

Nicholas Sok, a junior sport management major and NIU Recreation Center employee, even had to pry open multiple lockers with a crowbar.

“Oh yeah, I had to do that sometimes,” Sok said. “Sometimes, when the keys didn’t work, I had no other option, so I just grabbed a crowbar.”

Some lockers just didn’t work at all, leaving students victim to theft.

“All the lockers were just broken up,” said junior kinesiology major Matteo De Leon. “People could easily get into the lockers because some of the locks just didn’t lock.”

The new-and-improved locker rooms feature brand-new red and white flooring and bigger lockers with working lock systems. 

Individual stalls and shower heads were installed in the men’s locker room in place of the communal shower heads students had to share prior to renovations. 

While these added amenities make the locker rooms somewhat presentable again, they’re still missing a few things.

Only two-thirds of the locker rooms are finished. NIU is planning on finishing the final third sometime over the summer. Because of this, some of the full-body mirrors were taken down with the old lockers, and new ones weren’t added in place.

“The only mirror that’s there is above the sink, and I’m like, ‘How am I supposed to see my quad pump?’” Rozanski said.

The bathrooms connected to the locker rooms still have the horrendous brown and white tile flooring, and the sinks look too old for the new aesthetic.

“I don’t think they’re enough for how much time they had over winter break (to renovate) and even into the first semester,” De Leon said. “The bathrooms aren’t updated, there are still the same lockers on the back half. It just doesn’t match. I think it’s a good start, but I don’t think they’re anywhere near what it could be.”

The new look of the lockers feels modern and sleek to Rozanski, but the layout and the sizing of the new lockers should have stayed the same.

“Because they’re stacked on top of each other, they’re that weird shape,” Rozanski said. “I feel like with the top locker, you can’t get anything into that little bottom area. I just preferred the skinnier, taller lockers.”

Beyond the locker rooms, other parts of the Rec could use attention as well.

“The quality of equipment could be better,” De Leon said. “Some of the benches are very low. A bunch of the dumbbells don’t look as nice. The overall layout of the cardio room and machines is not very well put together.”

The first phase of locker room renovations was an OK first step for the Recreation Center, but NIU still has their work cut out for them if they want positive reviews.

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